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910306

Hermann Göring

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Hermann Wilhelm Göring, 1893-1946.  Nazi Reichsmarshall; Luftwaffe commander-in-chief.  Biography of Göring with an outstanding content inscription by Göring to his former brother-in-law.

This small book, entitled Hermann Göring:  A Life Picture, was published in Berlin.  Göring, second in power in Nazi Germany to only Adolf Hitler himself, has beautifully inscribed it in blue fountain pen on the flyleaf to Swedish Count Eric von Rosen, his former brother-in-law, “In remembrance of the visit in Berlin 16-18 March 1933 in the memorable days of the comeback of Germany.”

The memorable events of early 1933, to which Göring refers, set the stage for Hitler’s rise from Chancellor to dictator—Führer—forever changing the course of 20th Century history.  Göring himself had a large hand in them.

By the end of 1931, Germany had 5,000,000 unemployed and was in the throes of a major banking crisis.  Hitler’s Nazi party, which revived German nationalist sentiment, continually gained strength as unemployment and inflation rose to staggering levels.  It came to power in Germany with Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in a coalition government on January 30, 1933. 

Göring was one of two Nazis in the cabinet, but he held two different posts.  He was named a minister without portfolio, although it was understood that he, a decorated World War I pilot, would head the air ministry once it was established.  At Hitler’s insistence, he was also named the Interior Minister for Prussia under the conservative Franz von Papen, who as part of the coalition agreement was Vice Chancellor of the Reich and remained minister-president of Prussia, Germany’s largest state.  Although his appointment as Interior Minister for Prussia was little noticed at the time, Göring became the head of Germany’s largest police force.

At the urging of Hitler, who wanted a Nazi majority in the Reichstag, the aging President Paul von Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag and called a new election for March 5. 

On February 27, six days before the election, the Reichstag building burned.  Göring convinced Hitler that the Communists torched the building as the signal for a bloody uprising, and Hitler, in turn, persuaded von Hindenburg to sign the Reichstag Fire Decree the next day.  The decree, which was drafted in Göring’s Prussian Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Reich cabinet, suspended most of the civil liberties guaranteed in the Weimar Constitution, effectively allowing the Reich government to govern by martial law.  The indefiniteness of the decree allowed the Nazis to interpret it broadly.

While most German states banned Communist party meetings and publications, Göring completely suppressed the Communists.  Göring told the Prussian police on March 3 that restraints on police action imposed by Reich and state law” were abolished “so far as this is necessary . . . to achieve the purpose of the decree.”  He added that security measures would be “directed against the Communists in the first instance, but then also against those who cooperate with the Communists and who support or encourage their criminal aims.”  The Prussian police arrested more than 10,000 Communists, including the entire party leadership, and hundreds of other prominent anti-Nazis.

Overall, some 25,000 Communists and Socialists were arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps, and many were executed.  Communist Reichstag deputies were taken into “protective custody.”

The March 5 election gave the Nazis only 43.9%, not a majority, in the Reichstag.  Acting with the German National People’s Party, however, Hitler formed a slim majority government.  On March 15, the day before von Rosen arrived in Berlin for the visit memorialized in this book, Hitler and Göring discussed in a cabinet meeting how to obstruct what was left of the German democratic process in order to achieve Reichstag passage of an Enabling Act that would empower Hitler to exercise the Reichstag’s constitutional powers to make laws, control the budget, and approve treaties with foreign governments.

On March 23, Hitler obtained the necessary ⅔ vote of the Reichstag to pass the Enabling Act.  The vote, which occurred amid intimidation by brown shirted Nazi storm troopers inside and outside the chamber, gave the Reich cabinet the power to enact laws without the Reichstag’s participation for four years.  Extraordinarily, Article II declared that such laws could “deviate from the constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat.

Together, the Reichstag Fire Decree and the Enabling Act gave the Nazi government a legal dictatorship.  Although the Enabling Act conferred the power to enact laws upon the “Reich government,” as a practical matter Hitler exercised complete control.  Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Göbbels wrote that the “authority of the Führer has now been wholly established.  Votes are no longer taken.  The Führer decides.  All this is going much faster than we had dared to hope.

Count Eric von Rosen, to whom Göring inscribed this book, was the husband of Countess Mary von Rosen, the sister of Göring’s first wife, Carin.  On February 21, 1920, he persuaded Göring, who was then working for a Swedish air transport company, to fly him in a snowstorm from Stockholm to his estate at Rockelstad Castle, some 60 miles southwest.  There Göring met Carin, who was visiting Rockelstad for the weekend.  He immediately fell in love when he saw her come down the stairs.  Although Carin was married and had a child, she and Göring carried on a relationship until she was divorced in 1922.  They then were married on January 3, 1923.  She later died of heart failure in 1931.  Göring named his estate northwest of Berlin Carinhall and reinterred her body there, in a ceremony that Hitler and other top Nazi officials attended, in 1934.

This book has von Rosen’s circular bookplate imprinted In Rockelstad Ericus Com Dom inside the front cover, opposite the inscription.  The bookplate bears a swastika, which von Rosen chose as his runic symbol.  He found it on a Viking rune stone in Gotland, where he attended high school, and coincidentally chose it both before he met Göring and before Göring met Hitler.  The swastika is evident as an architectural decoration at Rockelstad Castle.

This was a very popular book in Germany.  We have accounted for at least 13 editions, of which this one is the fourth.  The book is by Martin H. Sommerfeldt and was published by E. S. Mittler & Son. 

The book is covered in a pebbled blue cover gilt embossed with a Nazi eagle and swastika motif.  The cover shows slight wear, but the binding is tight, and overall the book is in fine to very fine condition. 

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